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THE CONFEDERATE CAUSE IN THE COLORADO TERRITORY, 1861-1865 Duane Allan Smith The Civil War had just begun when the Colorado Territory came into existence. Whether this new territory would remain in the Union or join the Southern Confederacy quickly became a major issue in the area. At stake in this struggle were gold to finance the war and men to serve in the army. The Confederacy needed both, and badly, but it stood to profit in a third way by gaining control of the mountainous region. The acquisition of a large western territory would impress a diplomat unfamiliar with the area and might consequently help to hasten official European recognition. Southerners early settled in the area; however, with the increase of new inhabitants their percentage in the total population steadily declined . By 1861, although the estimates vary from 50 to 80 per cent, a majority of the people were Unionists. In a letter to President Lincoln, Benjamin Hall stated: Of the 30,000 people here at least 6,000 are men of southern paternity or proclivities."1 Denver was estimated to be equally divided between Northern and Southern supporters,2 which would indicate that Federal strength lay in the outlying regions. The June, 1861, census for Colorado gave a population total of 25,329, of which 18,316 were males over the age of twenty-one. The question of Negro slaves in the territory was never important. Although there was a report of slaves in the diggings in the summer of 1859, this was apparenfly very uncommon. The 1861 census returns showed only eighty-nine Negroesin theterritory; it did not state whether they were free or slave. Bom in San Diego, California, Duane Allan Smith is now a master's candidate in history at the University of Colorado. He is also working on a study of army military policy on the GreatPlaine, 1820-65. 1 U.S. War Dept. comp., War of ?# RtbeBion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1901 ), Ser. Ill, IV, 504. Hereafter cited as OR. Gov. William Gilpin believed the number to be nearer 7,500. Ibid., Ser. I, IV, 73. 2 Susan R. Ashley, "Reminiscence! of Colorado in the Early 'Sixties." Colorado Magazine, XIII (193T), 225-26. 71 72DUANE ALLAN SMITH Prior to the firing on Fort Sumter, the battle of Union or Dis-Union was waged in the infant territorial newspapers. The Rocky Mountain News, the leading paper in the territory, was at first neutral and printed articles from both sides. But by March, 1861, the paper swung into permanent support of the Union. The Canon City Times, accused of being pro-Southern, attempted at first to straddle the fence. It was not until the summer of 1861 that Union tendencies became predominant in its pages. The chief rival of the News in Denver, the Denver Mountaineer , appeared to favor the South early in 1861, and the paper's editorials became definitely pro-Southern by late spring. The Mountaineer , however, did not long survive in Denver, for in May its owners sold out to the News, went south, and enlisted in the Confederate army. Besides these territorial papers, others from the states were eagerly read by the people. The Sr. Louis Republican and the Missouri Democrat both published tri-weekly editions for Colorado distribution. The Democrat was a government supporter and the Republican a Democratic paper with secessionist leanings. These two had almost equal circulation in the territory; yet never ascertained were the number of peoplewho read the Republican because of its Democratic policies and not because it favored secession. Certainly the pro-Union papers in Colorado were definitely stronger and had a greater influence on the public. As the national tension mounted, so also did that between Southern and Northern supporters in Colorado. The Southerners, apparently gaining power and courage after Fort Sumter, removed a Union flag from a flagpole in Denver on April 20, and on the twenty-fourth they hoisted a Confederate flag over the Wallingford and Murphy Store.3 The flag was raised but the versions vary as to how it came down. Various stories report that patriotic Denverites forced its removal...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 71-80
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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